September 21, 2014

Elyria
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OSHA worker from Lorain pleads guilty to strip club extortion scheme

The Lorain man who tried to blackmail Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club in Cleveland pleaded guilty Tuesday to unauthorized use of property in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Schwarz

Additional charges of extortion and possession of criminal tools charges against Joseph Schwarz, 34, were dropped as part of his plea deal.

Schwarz will have to forfeit his cell phone and must resign from his job as a compliance officer for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration by the end of March under the terms of the agreement, according to Maria Russo, a spokeswoman for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason.

He is set to be sentenced in April.

Schwarz was arrested by the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force in July after he arrived at a meeting in which he was supposed to be paid $10,000. Schwarz, who was posing as a lawyer, had demanded the money from the club after falsely claiming he had video of customers doing drugs and performing illegal sex acts in the club.

According to prosecutors, Schwarz first contacted the club in early June and then continued to remain in contact using both his work and personal computers as well as his personal cell phone.

Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Jesse Canonico said the unauthorized use of property charge stemmed from Schwarz’s use of the government computer and Internet connection he used in the blackmail scheme.

Investigators have said the club cooperated in the investigation into Schwarz.

A call to Schwarz’s lawyer seeking comment Wednesday wasn’t returned.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.